Lincoln KB Custom Dietrich Convertible Sedan

With the introduction of Cadillac’s V16 in 1930 and the V12 in 1931, followed by the Pierce-Arrow V12 in 1931 and both Marmon’s Sixteen and Packard’s all-new Twin Six in 1932, the multi-cylinder race was on with a vengeance despite the worsening Great Depression. As a result, any manufacturer wishing to compete seriously in the American fine car segment needed to field such a car. Henry Leland had founded Lincoln on the premise of building a car without compromise, and true to this unwavering philosophy, Lincolns had always been well built – some would say overbuilt, in fact.

The debut of Lincoln’s all-new V12, therefore, came as no surprise in 1932. Neither did the quality of its engineering; with its seven main bearings, fork-and-blade connecting rods and separate cylinder blocks, the new engine was certainly an engineering tour de force. The only problem with it was the prohibitive cost of manufacture – it was in fact so expensive to build that it was replaced in just two years by a more conventional design, making 1933 the last year for the ultimate Lincoln of the Classic Era. The result is that among collectors today, the 1932 and 1933 KB Lincolns have achieved legendary, if not mythical, status. Although similar under the skin, the 1933 Lincolns featured updated styling with more attractively skirted fenders, a new V-shaped radiator shell and a host of detail updates.

Driven by Edsel Ford, Lincoln was unwavering in its commitment to the concept of the custom-coachbuilt car. As a result, the quality of the Lincoln KB chassis was unparalleled and specifically designed to receive a wide range of handsome and luxurious bespoke coachwork. Although a line of factory-standard sedans was also offered, each year new designs were solicited from the custom coachbuilders and design houses for the KB, and these renderings were used to produce legendarily rich, high-quality sales catalogs for Lincoln dealers.

Although they could be – and often were – highly customized and built to specific customer order, Lincoln also placed lot orders for good designs, sometimes as many as 50 bodies at a time. While these cars could certainly be finished and trimmed to the customer’s individual specifications, the bodies themselves were built in advance. This practice cleverly shortened the delivery schedule while still maintaining the impeccable quality and exclusivity of the true coachbuilt automobile – and created the term “catalog customs.” The leading American custom coachbuilders of the day all participated in the program, including Judkins, Waterhouse, Murphy, Brunn, Dietrich, Willoughby and LeBaron.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

150 bhp, 447.9 cu. in. L-head V12 engine, Stromberg two-barrel carburetor, three-speed sliding gear manual transmission, solid front axle, full-floating rear axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear, and four-wheel, power-assisted Bendix Duo-Servo mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 145"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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